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Ingushetia: protection concerns for Chechens

Briefing notes

Ingushetia: protection concerns for Chechens

1 November 2002

UNHCR protection staff are closely following the developments in camps for internally displaced Chechens in Ingushetia. According to reports by UNHCR staff and monitors, since 25 October military troops have been moved to Ingushetia and have established a presence close to four IDP camps locally referred to as Alina, Bella, Satsita and Sputnik. The four camps have a total population of about 17,000. The troops are reportedly there to prevent any attack from terrorist groups on the camps. Their presence consists of a few tents and trucks at the edge of the camps or, in the case of Bella camp, at the entrance. No military presence has been reported in any other camp or near temporary settlements.

As of yesterday (Thursday), a document check has been put in place at the four camps, with soldiers checking all cars and persons entering or leaving. Only IDPs who have a registration document proving their official presence in the camps can move freely in and out. Since some of the IDPs so far have not received such a registration document from the authorities, we are concerned that this may raise protection concerns for these individuals and would urge that the authorities provide appropriate documentation to the displaced people.

We are also concerned about increasing anxiety among the IDPs, some of whom consider the presence of troops so close to the camps as a potential threat or provocation. In at least one of the camps, the military tents are close to a school, where attendance has dropped by 70 percent.

Given the approaching winter and the affirmed position of the Federal and Ingushetia Migration Services that any return to Chechnya will be voluntary, the international aid community continues to emphasise with the Federal and Ingushetia authorities the urgent need for winterization of accommodation. For those IDPs who will remain in Ingushetia, wanting neither to return to Chechnya, nor to be relocated from tent camps to other buildings in Ingushetia, so far it has been agreed that tents will be replaced as necessary in Alina and Sputnik camps. Since early September, the Migration Services have encouraged IDPs in Iman camp in Aki Yurt to relocate in the surroundings of the camp or in Karabulak, close to Sleptovskayia or in Nazran. The proposed relocation sites have been assessed by the technical team of UNHCR and found to require a considerable amount of work that would be difficult to complete before the winter sets in.

In all, some 110,000 displaced Chechens are staying in Ingushetia, approximately 20,000 of them in tent camps.